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A Pet Parent's Guide to Addison's Disease in Cats

Addison's disease is a serious adrenal gland condition that, although uncommon, can occur in felines. Today's post provides information on Addison's disease in cats, its symptoms, and how it is treated.

What is Addison's Disease?

Addison's disease is a serious disease that occurs when the adrenal glands don't produce enough steroids for the body to function healthily. The adrenal glands regulate the hormones and sugar levels throughout the body, so damage to these glands can lead to organ irritation and failure throughout the body, as well as weakness and blood disease.

In cats, Addison's disease is not very common, but it is still a condition that owners should be able to recognize in its early stages. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are key when it comes to this condition.

What causes cats to develop Addison's disease?

Addison's disease is relatively rare in cats and the cause is difficult to pinpoint. That said, Addison's is generally believed to be related to autoimmune conditions that cause the body to attack its own tissues.

Other underlying health issues that may lead to Addison's disease developing in cats include:

  • Cancer (either originating from or spreading to the kidneys)
  • Use of corticosteroid drugs
  • Damage to the adrenal glands
  • Trauma or mineralization of the pituitary gland
  • Internal hemorrhage
  • Infection
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Glucocorticoid (steroid) withdrawal

What are the signs of Addison's in cats?

Addison's disease is a serious condition, and as such, it can have negative impacts on your cat's bodily health and behavior.

Symptoms of Addison's disease may come and go and are also associated with many other conditions. If your cat shows any signs of the symptoms listed below contact your vet to book an examination for your feline friend: 

  • Lack of energy
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden collapse
  • Lack of appetite or food avoidance
  • Chronic thirst
  • Depression
  • Blood in feces
  • Hair loss 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weak pulse
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Low temperature

How is Addison's disease diagnosed in cats?

When you take your feline friend to the veterinarian for these symptoms, they will take a full medical history and ask you about any pre-existing conditions that could lead to Addison's. Clinical signs of Addison's that your vet will look for can include dehydration, weak or slow pulse and irregular heartbeat.

A series of diagnostic tests, including urinalysis, blood tests and/or a fecal exam may be necessary to help determine how well your cat's organs are functioning. In some cases, X-rays or ultrasound may also be recommended. An ACTH stimulation test can be done to check the function of your cat's adrenal glands and ultimately confirm a diagnosis of Addison's.

What is the treatment for cats with Addison's disease?

Addison's disease is often an emergency illness that will need to be treated in critical animal care. Once their condition has been stabilized, your vet will move on to continued care from home. 

This condition cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Continued hormone treatment, medications and some lifestyle changes for your cat may work to control your cat's symptoms of Addison's disease.

What is the life expectancy of cats diagnosed with Addison's disease?

With proper treatment, many cats with Addison's disease go on to live normal healthy lives. However, regular wellness exams and diagnostic testing will be necessary so that your veterinarian can monitor your cat's health and adjust medications when necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your kitty showing signs of Addison's disease? Contact our Pine Grove veterinary hospital right away to book an examination or in severe cases please contact your nearest animal emergency hospital.

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